Piper, Warren, Horton, and Wilson

There has been a lot of furor over John Piper inviting Rick Warren to his 2010 Desiring God conference. While I don’t think it is something to get so worked up over, I don’t really think that an evanjellyfish like Warren has business being at a Calvinistic evangelical conference. Ironically, the conference theme this year is “Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God,” and I’m not sure how Warren fits in with that. But it’s Piper’s conference, so he can invite whomever he wishes.

There are a couple reactions to this news that I especially appreciated. First is Mike Horton’s lengthy reaction to the news over at the White Horse Inn blog:

“Warren’s theology seems to reflect run-of-the-mill evangelical Arminianism, especially with its emphasis on the new birth as the result of human decision and cooperation with grace…None of this disqualifies him from being an evangelical statesman. After all, much the same can be said of Billy Graham. After pointing out how difficult it is to define an evangelical theologically, historian George Marsden famously surmised that it’s “anyone who likes Billy Graham.” Today, perhaps, it’s anyone who likes Rick Warren…His best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, begins by announcing that it’s not about you, but about God, and then the rest of the book is about you. There seems to be a contradiction between the God-centered theology that is professed and the basically human-centered orientation that dominates much of his message and methods.”

Second is a five-minute video interview with Doug Wilson on the topic. Wilson was last year’s “bad boy” of the conference (he also filled the role of the token post-mil) and as such offers a unique perspective.

Third is Phil Johnson’s spot-on reaction that touches specifically on Piper, Warren, the harsh critics, and discernment. “Warren’s private reassurances to John Piper shouldn’t trump the fact that he does not actually preach the gospel plainly, boldly, thoroughly, unashamedly, and in a way that is faithful to the Word of God. If he privately believes something other than what he has said in his books and sermons, that makes him more culpable as a hypocrite. His belief is better than his practice? Let’s not make that sound heroic.”

In conclusion, I’m not worked up about the issue, though I strongly disagree with Warren, his theology, his methods, and his persona. At the same time, I’m not a huge Piper fan (I’ve been encouraged by much of his work and have lots of common ground with him, but have key disagreements in other areas), but I respect his work and I respect his decision to invite whomever he wishes. If you don’t like it, don’t go.

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3 thoughts on “Piper, Warren, Horton, and Wilson

  1. I lack strong feelings either way concerning Rick Warren; he certainly is not in my "circles." That important disclaimer being said, my initial reaction to the controversy was that perhaps the fact that it generates controversy is the best thing to come out of it. As a general rule, we have trouble crossing denominational/movement/style boundaries. Maybe we need a little more scandal in the area of (genuine) Christian unity.

  2. Our internet connection has been spotty lately, so watching the video was not without interruption. I had a lot of time to stare at still frames during the interview.Did you notice the copy of "Why Johnny Can't Preach" displayed prominently beside the interviewer?

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